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Archive for the ‘CUUPS’ Category

Today I attended an Esbat – the first in a couple years, I think.  It was put on by the local CUUPs chapter.  There weren’t as many people there as there were last time, but still some familiar and new faces.  The ritual was very Wiccan, which isn’t a problem, of course, but I’ve not been to anything like that since leaving Utica.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and the ritual wasn’t briefed very well beforehand so there were some awkward moments.  We did get some energy flowing, which was fun.  We made some holy water for spells and consecrations which will be nice to have.  The ritual leader never lead us through a grounding which I believe helped trigger a headache.  I did some grounding when I returned home which helped. So…  all in all, pros and cons to the ritual.  I really liked getting to know people, working with others towards a magical goal, and seeing new ways of doing things, but I think they could plan it better.  In their defense, they did admit that they hadn’t really planned well to begin with!  I do intend to keep going for now.  There was some good energy and the fellowship is nice.  

I also did some shopping today.  I bought some clothes, some art supplies to make more tree spirits, and the latest edition of Witches and Pagans.  I have a lot to keep me busy!

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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As of August 6th, Weretoad and I have been residents of Northern NY for a year.  We moved up here from the Mohawk Valley last year.  It’s been a bit of a transition.  I’ve been meaning to write about it.

In many ways, the North Country is similar to the Mohawk Valley.  It’s still NY and therefore we witness similar plants and animals.  Each area enjoys productive agricultural areas and lovely rivers and/or canals.  We’re a couple hours away from the Utica/Rome area, so I’m not seriously removed from my family and friends.

That said there are differences.  Few people see wild bears in the Mohawk Valley, but they’re quite common up here, as are bobcats*.  There have even been lynx and cougar sightings.  This is probably because life up here is more agriculture than in the Mohawk Valley which is heavily urban and suburban except for a few happy exceptions.  The bigger animals haven’t been driven out yet.

The rivers in the North Country seem more appreciated.  They are a central part of life here and not just something discussed in 4th grade social studies.  People celebrate our rivers.  Schools incorporate them into their songs.  The St. Lawrence is huge to our tourist industry, and many people who reside in this area enjoy it for sport, beauty, and sustenance.

The urban and suburban centers, while spread apart, have grown on me.  Alexandria Bay is kitschy but the views are beautiful and the swimming area is great on a hot day.  Clayton is one of my favorite places to go.  It seems to be the artistic center of Northern NY with its textile museum, antique boat museum,  studios, galleries, opera house, and art classes.  The view of the St. Lawrence is just as spectacular there.  The dining is also wonderful and vegetarian friendly.

Potsdam, an hour away from us, is a lovely college town full of cafes, international cuisine, boutiques, and access to the Raquette River.  There is art and academia, and it seems very pedestrian friendly.  I wish it were closer so I could live there!

Our city is Watertown.  While smaller than Utica, it seems cleaner and more alive.  There are many shops, restaurants, a huge and ornate library, and a thriving farmers market that is right in the middle of everything on Wednesdays (although parking is hard to find…) and a second, smaller one closer to the community college on Saturdays.

I am finding things to keep me busy outside of work and home.  There are a lot of classes that I would like to take advantage of when I have a little more money – yoga, sustainable/organic gardening, tai chi, weaving, drumming….  I’ve even found belly dancing classes a few towns away.  The CUUPs chapter is now providing me a place to practice Paganism more regularly with others.  A second New Age shop just opened up here.  The Mustard Seed in Watertown is my vegetarian cafe.  We have an amazing Thai restaurant, a decent Indian restaurant, and now have hibachi!  We are super close to the Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Ottawa, and Montreal.  The military presence originally gave Northern NY a conservative feel, and I’m sure a majority of people here are very conservative, but the area is more diverse than that.    I’m feeling happier here and more at home, and that’s even without me waxing poetic about how I have an amazing job with wonderful people!

There are things I miss.  The proximity to my family and friends is one of them.  My parents, especially my father, keep talking about moving up here.  They really like it.  I wish they would.  I miss seeing them as much as I used to.  There are things about Utica I miss as well: the amazing Stanley theater and the art museum mostly.  The Stanley gets Broadway shows and MWPAI has a spectacular collection as well as their affordable film series.  Weretoad and I used to take advantage of that all the time.  We also miss Minar, the Indian Restaurant in Utica.  The place in Watertown isn’t bad – it’s quite good really – but the environment at Minar was special.  The staff knew us and the decor was warmer feeling.  Utica also had more independent cafes.  I’ve found some in Clayton, Canton, and Potsdam, but Watertown only seems to have Paneera and the closest thin in my hometown is a Jrek’s Sub Shop.

I also miss how close everything was in the Mohawk Valley.  Unless living in the extreme outskirts, it only took 15-20 minutes to get anywhere.  Up here, we have to drive 30 minutes to Watertown, 30 minutes to A Bay, 40 minutes to Clayton, 40 minutes to Canton, 1 hour to Potsdam…  It’s annoying and stressful to someone who wants to be more environmentally friendly.  But even if I were to move to Watertown so I could be closer to everything there, I would then be 30 minutes from my job.  I can’t win, aside from moving in between – which is what we’d like to do.  But, as the author of F that S says in her latest blog entry, living in the North Country comes with a lot of driving.  Her entry assuaged my inner guilt, reminding me that the little things one does to help the environment do add up.  Thanks for that!

While I’m certainly not close-minded to moving elsewhere down the road, I am finding myself happy here.  I have days or moments when I am annoyed by the driving, but that’s really the worst part, and I want to focus on the best parts, of which there are many.

Here’s to another year of exploration and growth in the North Country!

* I’ve not seen either yet, but my place of employment was on lockdown due to a bear once.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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CUUPs – Take Two

Last Tuesday I gave the local CUUPs chapter another chance.  I stopped going after my first visit because 1) I was ill for their next meeting, 2) scheduling with Weretoad complicated travel and 3) I was honestly unimpressed with the meeting.  They spent most of it discussing the food to serve – an activity better relegated to a sign-up sheet or an online forum.  I was disgruntled and returned to my solitary den, emerging only to celebrate with Muin Mound in Syracuse.

I decided that I had enough of being so alone.  I love my grovies and cherish the time I spend with them, but it’s not enough.  I need to make friends up here as well.  CUUPs, with its open, bi-monthly meetings seemed like the best bet.  Only…for a few weeks it seemed they had disbanded.  The organizer’s computer was at the ‘puter doctor, hence the poor communication.

My most recent foray into the CUUPs world was more enjoyable.  The meeting was held outside where I was able to admire the lovely church grounds.  There were more people than last time.  We all discussed our experiences and/or research on lunar rituals and traditions.  I was called a living book because of my knowledge on Celtic lore.  This amused me because, compared with some people in ADF, I’m such a noob.  Weretoad was at work so I didn’t feel like I had to leave right away in sympathy for his boredom.  I stayed and chatted with several people about Druidism, green/hedge/kitchen witchcraft, auras, and local shops.  It felt so good to talk with like-minded people in my new hometown. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready last time…  Or perhaps the group has progressed in their organization?

I guess we’ll see how it goes.  🙂

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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First off, a doodle I’ve been toying with tonight.* I was experimenting with some charcoal. Not really done but thought I’d share.

I was really hopeful to get one of my books on magic in Northern Europe today. I can’t wait to start the ISP! In the meantime, I’m slowly working my way through some online drawing tutorials while coming up with sources for my muse essay.

In other news, I decided not to attend the Watertown CUUPS ritual tonight. I’m really congested and I can’t participate well in a group meditation when I feel like I can’t breathe. I hope they enjoy themselves!

Finally, I thought I should mention that I found my missing oath ring! It was hiding in a laundry basket. My hand feels less naked! Out of curiosity, do any of you have spiritually significant jewelry? What is it, where do you wear it, and what is the symbolism behind it?

* For my lj friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/

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Spring is Coming

I heard geese today!  That’s a sure sign of spring!

It feels so comfortable outside.  I love these transitionary moments.  I can feel the energy and the potential in the air.  Things are stirring.  Life is stirring.

In other news, I finally attended a CUUPS meeting.  It was held in the Watertown UU (Huge, lovely building, by the way.  I was surprised at how large it was!).  My husband came because I was nervous about meeting new people – Pagans in particular.  You see, as much as I love my religious community, it can’t be denied that we attract some folks with questionable stability and, sometimes, morality.  I was delighted to find a group of inviting, intelligent, sane people.  Really, I’ve only had a couple of freaky experiences – both relatively minor to others I’ve heard of.  But still.  It doesn’t hurt to play it safe, especially as a woman in an area full of testosterone, economic uncertainty, and a pool of people potentially dealing with PTSD.

Anyway, first impressions are everything and, as I said, these seemed like good people.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and prepare for the Spring Equinox.  I was a little put off by the use of an Edain McCoy book, but otherwise the research was pretty spot on to a lot of history books I’ve read.  Of course there was the usual duotheistic slant I’ve come to expect from most eclectic groups, but I am fine with that so long as they understand (or try to understand) the cultures from whence the holidays came.  I was even more impressed that the group was attempting to have a casual ritual open to people of all paths.  There will be no calling of quarters, no main deity called, no offerings given, etc.  Basically, the point of the ritual is to welcome spring and raise some energy that will be put back into the Earth.  Following that there is to be a potluck.  I offered to bring quiche.

I am looking forward to the ritual but also have some minor trepidations with the group.  Again, it is not their personalities or anything of the sort.  I think, more than anything, I feel really new but also really experienced.  The two women doing most of the talking have been Pagans longer than me, and that’s awesome.  But everyone else seems really new and quiet.  I felt that I had a lot to say but was really reluctant to open my mouth for fear of overstepping boundaries.  I’m also uncertain as to their true feelings about ADF.  I was impressed that they knew about it, Muin Mound, and some of our beliefs.  They said they had done some ADF rituals in the past but I got the feeling they really weren’t keen on them.  Something about being too complicated (they’re long but logical, in my opinion).  They’re not for everyone, but I definitely get something out of them and I would hate to work with people who turn their noses down on my tradition.  I guess I’ll just see how things go next time and consider whether or not I go back… It’s hard being the newbie.  I’m uncertain how they see me and what they really think.

You see, I’m struggling with wanting to find a local community and friends that I can feel safe with, and feeling like I already have too much going on.  Whenever I participate in ADF chats or attend Muin Mound, I feel really fulfilled.  I like being on a similar wavelength to others, and it’s not like I’ve severed ties with my eclectic Pagan friends in Utica. I just…  I don’t know.  I’m lonely but then I’m not.  Growing pains, I suppose. I guess I’ll just see what happens!  At the very least, I would like to give the CUUPS a chance and maintain a positive relationship with them.

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Happy Times!

Three things to mention before a busy evening:

1) Spring!  Spring!  Spring!  The sun is shining, the earth is getting warmer, I hear birds singing, and I see buds on the trees!  (I’m sorry if this exceeds my bubbly quota.)

2) I’m actually going to go to a CUUPS meeting tonight.  I’m dragging my poor husband because I’m nervous about going by myself.

3) I was officially accepted into the Initiate Study Program!  EEEE!  I need to order more books!

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Hoping to try CUUPS

Ok.  I emailed the liaison for CUUPS in Watertown.  According to the website, they meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month.  I would hate to go and find out it was rescheduled, though, so I wanted to email and get some details about what the topic of discussion will be and if I’m expected to bring a dish.  I’m really dedicated to going this time.  If people really rub me the wrong way, I just won’t go back.  If it’s  iffy, I’ll take my friend Katrina’s advice and go a few times just to make sure.

Quite simply, I would really love some Pagan contacts up here.  I would love to make a friend.  I cannot find anyone on my own it seems.  There’s the store Moontide but the shopkeeper is New Agey – not Pagan.  Meetup.com doesn’t list any groups.  Facebook yields similar results.  I’m not about to send private messages to complete strangers on Witchvox.  I want to meet in the relative safety of a group.  Something sanctioned by the UU puts me at further ease.

Sooo…  Here’s hoping (if the meeting is on) that my husband is willing to go with me (I am SO not going alone) and that it is mostly positive.

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